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How did bands come up with their names?

The story behind some iconic musical groups 10 Questions.

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XTC, the Swindon-based new wave group's founder, Andy Partridge, hit upon their name in what way?

  • At one time, several members had used the drug Ecstasy.
  • It connoted the thrill they felt making music.
  • Partridge heard Jimmy Durante say in a film, "I'm in ecstasy!" and represented that word with letters.


How did Kurt Cobain, the leader of Nirvana, think up their name?

  • Kurt wanted a contrast to a punk rock mean-sounding name by choosing the term for the Buddhist state of freedom from suffering.
  • He saw a perfume bottle on Courtney Love's shelf with that label.
  • He was making a play on the word nerve because he imagined their grunge sound would get on parents' nerves.


The most famous group in history is The Beatles and, in its first incarnation, were The Silver Beatles. Why did John Lennon suggest that name to his bandmates?

  • His Aunt Mimi's garden was infested with beetles.
  • John was paying homage to Buddy Holly's group The Crickets and playing on the word Beat as well.
  • It was a misspelling of the word beadle, a council official, a position held by his former school superintendant.


John Bonham, Led Zeppelin's drummer, made which justification for his idea for the band's moniker?

  • Bonham was fascinated by the Hindenburg explosion radio broadcast and zeppelin flight in general.
  • John wanted to honor the legendary blues player Lead Belly, a virtuoso on the 12-string guitar.
  • Bonham said the name would go over like a lead balloon but changed it to Led to ensure the right pronunciation.


Why would the name The Yardbirds promote nice suburban youngsters Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck's with a scruffy dangerous image?

  • Yardbirds is a US jailhouse slang term for prisoners in an exercise yard.
  • Yardbirds is their nickname for the neighborhood girls who would walk by and flirt with them in their front yards.
  • They shared a dovecote at Jimmy's house where they trained racing pigeons so felt the name apropos.


How did Pink Floyd originate their name?

  • Floyd Sennet was a neighborhood boy who sported very effeminate fashions, including many pink clothes.
  • They combined the names of favourite blues musicians, Pink Anderson & Floyd Council, they adopted The Pink Floyd Sound, then Pink Floyd.
  • Syd Barrett had a vintage Chevy tagged Floyd with a retro paint job of pink and black.


Why was the punk/mod band The Jam inspired to name themselves that?

  • Paul Weller was crawling along slowly on the M1 on Friday afternoon and came up with The Jam.
  • Paul Weller's sister, at breakfast, said there was a band called Bread but not one called Jam.
  • They called these regular auditions for new members jam sessions and then took on that name.


It's a well-known saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss, but what's the REAL basis for the name of the rock group, The Rolling Stones, that has performed for decades?

  • From an EP by blues icon Muddy Waters who sings a lyric "I'm a Rolling Stone!" as well as singing a song called Rolling Stone Blues.
  • Bill Wyman was almost seriously injured by a rockslide when he was exploring hills in the Peak District.
  • Worldwide touring was a dream, so the Rolling conveyed movement and they got stoned a lot.


Why did the band Queen come up with that one-word name?

  • Freddie wanted to suggest his preference for effeminate gay men or queens, despite objections of bandmates.
  • "It's very regal and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate," said Freddie.
  • Freddie Mercury's mother was a staunch monarchist so he was brought up to honor Queen Elizabeth II.


How did Lynyrd Skynyrd come up with their star name with odd spelling?

  • Their former P.E. teacher, Leonard Skinner, denigrated long hair. In anger at his intolerance, they distorted the spelling of his name.
  • They were lying in their front yard with a girlfriend Lynn looking up at the sky and were inspired to give the group the name Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • They'd skin raccoons' hides and nicknamed 1 piece Linnard and sardonically called it "skinnered."